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USCCB Cuts Social Justice Staff

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has laid off staff members from its Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development, a division that has frequently found itself embroiled in controversy.

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema

Highlights

By Catholic Online (California Network)
6/26/2024 (3 weeks ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: USCCB, Catholic Bishops, CCHD, Social Justice, Layoffs, Controversy

Chieko Noguchi, a spokesperson for the USCCB, confirmed that several staff members were let go on Monday. Among those affected were employees of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the national anti-poverty initiative of the U.S. Catholic bishops.

The CCHD's financial struggles, exacerbated by a decline in donations during the COVID-19 pandemic, were discussed behind closed doors at the bishops' June plenary assembly in Louisville, Kentucky. This financial shortfall was a significant factor leading to the layoffs.

Since 2008, the CCHD has faced criticism from activists and some Catholic bishops for funding organizations that took positions contrary to Church teachings on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. In response, the USCCB introduced stricter controls in 2010 to ensure grantees adhered to Catholic doctrines.

The recent layoffs are part of a broader "reorganization" to align resources with current funding trends, according to Noguchi. She emphasized that as this is a personnel matter, no further details would be provided at this time. It remains unclear if other committees within the department were affected by the cuts.

The Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development focuses on promoting Catholic social teaching related to peace, poverty, racism, and environmental issues. It oversees several committees, including the Committee on International Justice and Peace, the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Additionally, the department houses an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, led by Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry.

Despite the layoffs, Noguchi assured that the CCHD's national collection and grant awards will continue. "The CCHD subcommittee will continue its work," she stated, noting that the administration of the collection is being reorganized for more efficient management.

USCCB President Archbishop Timothy Broglio highlighted the bishops' commitment to fighting poverty during the assembly, reinforcing the importance of their work.

Johnny Zokovitch, executive director of the lay-led Catholic social justice group Pax Christi, expressed concern over the layoffs. He fears the Church might be retreating from crucial areas of support, particularly for immigrants and marginalized communities. Zokovitch emphasized the historical role of the Church in standing with the poor and marginalized, warning that cutting these offices could signal an abandonment of these essential missions.

While the USCCB reaffirms its dedication to combating poverty, the recent staff cuts raise questions about the past, and the future of its social justice initiatives and the Church's role in these movements. 

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